Iran Claims Shooting at Hezbollah Protesters Was Backed by Israel

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An army soldier carries a schoolchild near a protest against Judge Tarek Bitar in Beirut, today.
An army soldier carries a schoolchild near a protest against Judge Tarek Bitar in Beirut, on Thursday. Credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS

Iran condemned the killing of protesters in Lebanon, describing Thursday's shootings as seditions backed by Israel, state-run Press TV said on Twitter on Friday.

"Iran believes that the people, the government, the army and the resistance in Lebanon will successfully overcome seditions backed by the Zionist entity," IRNA news agency quoted the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.

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On Thursday, armed clashes erupted in Beirut during a protest organized by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its allies against the lead judge probing last year’s blast in the city’s port. At least six people were killed and dozens were wounded in the most protracted and violent street fighting in the city in years, authorities said.

Hezbollah later said protesters from its group and the Amal movement had been attacked by gunmen from the Christian Lebanese Forces, who denied involvement and said the violence stemmed from Hezbollah "incitement" over the trial.  Hezbollah said snipers had shot from the tops of buildings intending to kill people.

Lebanon's army said it had arrested nine people, including a Syrian, after the violence. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all concerned in Lebanon to immediately halt acts of violence and refrain from provocative actions or inflammatory rhetoric, a UN spokesman said. 

Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced on Twitter that Friday would be a day of public mourning.

President Michel Aoun vowed that those who were responsible for the violence. In a televised speech after shootings that killed six people, Aoun said it was "unacceptable that weapons are once more the means of communication among Lebanese rivals ... We will not allow anyone to take the country hostage to their own interests."

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